How Samuel Orchard Helped Put Bloomington on the Map

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Several of the events that helped put Bloomington and Monroe County on the map at an early day were related to efforts put forth by Samuel M. and John Orchard, brothers and natives of Bourbon County, Kentucky.

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This image of the Goddess of Liberty from the photo collection of the Library of Congress was created between 1860 to 1865.  The image of the Goddess used by the Orchard brothers to advertise the inn is not known.

The two men came north to Indiana with their parents, Isaac and Margery (Mitchell) Orchard, about 1819 and the family settled in Washington County.  In 1822 Samuel and John, newly married to Jane McPheeters, formed a partnership to go into the wool carding business.  Isaac commissioned Samuel Pyle, a machine maker in Paris, Kentucky, to make up a full set of wool carding machines for the brothers.

Because the two young men had as yet no idea where to establish their new business, they started out in the fall of 1822 to view the country.  They didn’t go far.  Their first stop was Bloomington in Monroe County which they thought to be a “rich, new country” and the settlers, though few, were “social and friendly.”  Satisfied that the area might work well for them, they purchased a lot with a log house on it.  Nearly three decades later, that lot would be where the Orchard House was erected.

The next task of the brothers was to get the machinery from Paris, Kentucky to Bloomington.  A five-horse team rigged with twelve horses started out in the Spring of 1823.  After five weeks and a lengthy journey through mud and water, they arrived at their destination.  Upon their arrival in Bloomington, the machinery was put to use as soon as possible and ran successfully until 1836.

In 1826 the need for a mill to take in flax seed became apparent.  Nearly every farmer in Monroe County, whether large or small, grew flax in order to furnish their wives with the material to weave linen for the household.  Because there was no place in Bloomington to mill the flax, wagon loads of the raw material were shipped to Louisville for milling.  Seizing upon the opportunity, Samuel and John opened a flax seed mill to accommodate local farmers.  It ran for seven or eight years and was sold along with the wool carding business in 1836.

Seeing how responsive the two brothers were to the needs of the community, they were solicited by their fellow citizens about 1828 to “open a house for the entertainment of travelers.”  John was of a mind to do it and called upon Austin Seward, a fine mechanic, to paint him a sign for the Temperance Inn with a picture of the Goddess of Liberty.  Once completed, it was attached to a post set into the ground where it stayed until time wore it away.  The Inn, located on South College, was the first hostelry in the history of the county’s highways that did not have a bar or serve liquor to its guests.

About the same time the flax seed mill and wool carding businesses were in sold in 1836, the U. S. Post Office department offered a contract for mail service from Indianapolis to Leavenworth on the Ohio River.  No one seemed eager to accept the contract because the compensation was small, the work hard and sometimes dangerous.  However, after putting their heads together, Samuel and John decided there might be a way to combine the mail service with some type of public conveyance–as of yet, there was no such thing in Monroe County or even nearby.  They were encouraged to make a commitment by a large number of Monroe County “subscribers” who promised to patronize the line when started.

Reluctantly they began buying horses and coaches.  They went to Indianapolis and bought two six-passenger coaches especially built for service and durability.  A trustee of Indiana College, realizing the benefit of transportation to and from the school, helped by furnishing teams to run from Paoli to Leavenworth.  And from the time the brothers opened for business they were well patronized.

Four to six large, strong horses pulled each stagecoach.  It was necessary to change them at intervals of about twelve miles when they became fatigued.  Each stage made one round trip a week stopping at towns along the route to pick up and deliver mail. In the spring, the roads were often impassable because streams were swollen beyond their banks and mud was sometimes axle deep.

Samuel Orchard seemed to be the leader of this and every business enterprise operated by the brothers.  In 1837 he began butchering livestock for the trade and continued in this enterprise successfully along with his many other projects for about 12 years.

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This painting of S. M. Orchard once hung in the Coronation Room at the IU Union building.  A photocopy is the in Orchard family file at the Monroe County History Center.

 

In 1850 he also established the Orchard House on the property that eventually faced the Monon station.  This was just before the building of the New Albany Railroad, and the brothers gave liberally in subscription for stock in the new railroad enterprise which was to mean so much for the city’s progress in later years.  They even deeded land to the railroad for a small consideration.  The railroad evidently appreciated the efforts made on their behalf because for many years the passenger trains routinely stopped in Bloomington long enough for passengers to take their meals at the Orchard House where tables were piled high with produce from Samuel’s 60-acre farm.

In 1850 and 1860, enumerators noted both John and Samuel Orchard on the same page as head of adjacent households.  Both were noted as landlords and both owned an equal amount of real estate.  The brothers, however, had dissolved their partnership in 1855 with the jointly owned property amicably divided between them.

Samuel retained ownership of the Orchard House.  In 1860, there were six permanent residents living at the Orchard House along with four members of family.

By the 1870’s both men were getting up in years.  John’s wife died in 1865 and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.  John joined her there in the spring of 1872.  Samuel then began operating the Orchard House and its subsidiaries with the help of his sons.  However, 78-year-old Samuel was still functioning as the hotel keeper when he was visited by the census enumerator in 1880.  Two of his sons, James and Isaac S., were members of the same household.

In early November 1888, the Orchard House was one of only a few hotels in Bloomington and certainly the largest.  Before the month was out, it would exist no more.  At 2 AM on Tuesday, November 6, an alarm of fire was sounded.  People hurried from their beds to find the Orchard Block, which by then extended from College Avenue to Railroad Street from east to west and from 5th Street to an alley running north and south, to be on fire.

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The Orchard House as noted on the 1887 Sanborn Fire Map.  Bounded on the north and south by Fifth and Fourth streets and on the east and west by College Avenue and Railroad (now Morton) Street.

The wind blew hard, fanning the flames and rapidly spreading destruction.  Many of the building were frame and in less time than it takes to tell it, the whole mass of building, frame and brick, seemed to be on fire.  In just a few minutes, almost the entire contents of the Orchard House, accumulated through years of business and labor, were swept away.  Samuel Orchard, then 86 years old, was able to save nothing—neither clothing nor bedding.

According to newspapers, it was the most disastrous fire that had ever occurred to date for the simple reason that the destruction was almost total and the insurance on the various businesses comparatively nothing.  There was not one dollar of insurance on the Orchard House.

Samuel Orchard at his advanced age was done.  Martha McPheeters, his wife of many years, was gone, having died in 1885.  That entrepreneurial spirit that so characterized his youth no longer existed.    So it was that one of the best known hotel men of the state, proprietor of the first regular hotel in Bloomington, one that bore his name, decided to spend what remaining years he had left comparatively idle.

When he died on December 3, 1891, at the home of his son and namesake, Sam Orchard, he was 89 years of age.  According to his obituary he was respected and revered by all who knew him.  He was a faithful member of the Walnut Street Presbyterian Church, and from that place his funeral was held.  Afterward his remains were placed at the side of his beloved wife in Rose Hill Cemetery.


Much of the information for this blog came from an “Old Bloomington” column published in the Bloomington World Telephone on December 1, 1944, titled “A Short Account of the Orchard Family Written by Samuel M. Orchard in 1888.”  A copy of the item is also available on Reel 14, Local History Microfilm Collection, Monroe County Public Library and a transcript of the article was posted by johnb1959 on Ancestry’s website in 2011 and can be found online at https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/tree/29407238/person/12174227396/media/012e5a64-0ca2-456d-ab5a-b32297e9ff9e?_phsrc=gat1705&_phstart=successSource.

Other sources include:

  • An article by Mrs. Wesley Hays published in an undated and unsourced column titled “Looking Back” from Fred Lockwood’s scrapbook. A very similar article to that of Hays was written by Forest M. “Pop” Hall and published in the November 29, 1921, issue of the Bloomington Evening World.  Both Hays and Hall included much information from Samuel Orchard’s biosketch included in Blanchard’s early history of Monroe County.
  • Samuel Orchard’s obit, December 8, 1891, p. 1.
  • Various federal population census records for Monroe County, Indiana.
  • Sanborn Fire Map

 

 

Civil War Roll of Honor—1883

uncle samBlog post by Randi Richardson

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those who served our country in the time of war.  It is a tradition that far exceeds the bounds of Monroe County stretching from America’s east coast to the west. It’s also a very old tradition.

On page one of the Bloomington Telephone published June 2, 1883, and available online at Hoosier State Chronicles, a free website, is a listing of Monroe County soldiers who either died in the service or since the war.  The list includes hundreds of names along with the regiment number and remarks such as place and cause of death.  Occasionally a death date is also included.

Unfortunately, the list is compiled in random order by regiment and not alphabetically.  However, if you have been searching for a Civil War veteran it may be worth your time to scan through this list carefully to determine if your ancestor is included.  A few examples are noted below.

George W. Whitaker, 82nd Reg’t, died at Bowling Green, Ky.

Elvin Farmer, Colored Reg’t, died at Memphis

William McDermott, 82nd Reg’t, died of wounds rec’d at Chickamauga

David P. Sutphin, 28th Ind., died of disease at home in Indianapolis

Francis Otwell, Jr., 27th Ind., died at Indianapolis July 27 ‘74

James W. Nichols, 38th Reg’t, died at Andersonville prison

A few years later a similar list was published in the Bloomington Telephone on May 8, 1922 (see p. 4).  There were many more dates of death in this news item than in the one noted above.  The latter list was viewed online at www.newspaperarchive.com, a paid website, but it should also be available on microfilm at the Monroe County Public Library.  The list took up the entire page but about a third of the page was not legible.

Arthur Day, Leading Bloomington Funeral Director, Died Saving the Life of His Wife

Blog post by Randi Richardson.

One minute Arthur Day and his wife, Mary, were at the northwest corner of Bloomington’s town square walking toward their home at 302 N. Walnut Street; seconds later Arthur lay mortally wounded in the street.  They had just finished a meal together at the Graham Hotel.  It was to be their last.

As they walked east across Walnut Street on Thursday evening, April 17, 1947, Arthur jerked Mary’s arm pulling her backward.  In this way, unbeknownst to her, he had placed himself between her and an oncoming car.  Mary didn’t see the 1937 Ford sedan driven by 22-year-old Howard Watson of Harrodsburg until Arthur was violently hurled against her knocking them both to the ground.

When Mary realized that Arthur was badly injured, she sat down in the middle of the street and raised his bleeding head to her lap.  As a former hospital superintendent, she immediately recognized his condition as grave.  He was still breathing and his eyes were open, but he was unconscious.

Watson, stopped immediately, leaped from his car, ran to the nearest phone and called for an ambulance and the police who arrived at the scene of the accident almost simultaneously with the arrival of a Day Funeral Home ambulance.   Two hours later, at 9:45 PM, Arthur breathed his last at the Bloomington Hospital without regaining consciousness.

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Arthur Day

After a thorough investigation, Dr. R. E. Lyon, the Monroe County coroner, determined that the accident was unavoidable, a finding shared by the police.  It was believed that the tragedy occurred when the stop-and-go light changed when the Days were in the middle of the street.  Watson did not see the couple readily because the car immediately in front of him turned leaving him unaware that anyone was crossing the street.

At the time of his death Arthur Day, age 66, had been a well-known and respected resident of Bloomington for the past 45 years.  He moved from Brown County to Bloomington in 1902 and was in the grocery business until 1913 when he joined a firm that operated both a furniture store and a funeral home business on the north side of the square.  Arthur bought out his partners and became the sole operator in 1924.

He was one of the best-known residents of Monroe County.  Nearly everyone knew the big, quiet man as a friend.  His pleasant disposition brought him much success in his profession.

In addition to his wife, Arthur was survived by two daughters, Mrs. Gayle Campbell and Mrs. Lucille Pearcy of Bloomington; one brother, Odus Day of Bloomington; and two sisters, Mrs. Nannie Lanum of Bloomington and Mrs. Elma McDaniel in Kansas; three grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Source:  Picture and text abstracted from an obituary for Arthur Day published by the Bloomington World, April 18, 1947, pp. 1-2.

Barbara (Ellett) Dail Remembers Stinesville

Barbara Rose Ellett was born March 12, 1937, in the old Hoadley Mansion in Stinesville, Monroe County, Indiana.  Her parents were Charles Homer and Blanche Elizabeth (Baker) Ellett.  Her maternal grandparents were Sherman and Sarah Lucy Evaline (Stewart) Baker; her paternal grandparents were W. A. Gorman and Mary Gettysburg “Getty” (Payton) Ellett.

Barbara grew up and spent her childhood in Stinesville surrounded by many cousins on both sides of her family.  At an early age she began writing and was first published when she was only 11 years of age.  By the 1970’s her stories were widely published in literary magazines in both in the U. S. and overseas.

stineville

Eventually Barbara married James Raymond Daniels with whom she had three children:  Debra Rae, Patrick James and David Eugene.  Her second husband was Roy D. Dail, Sr., who had three sons by a prior marriage:  Roy D., Jr., Douglas Jerome and David Nelson.  The family settled in Arkansas.

It was while living in Arkansas in 1998 that Barbara wrote and privately published her autobiography, a slim volume of only 72 pages.  Although small in size, it is rich in pictures and detail about Stinesville people, places and events.

Several years ago I purchased the book for fifty cents.  Because of its small size, it became lost among the larger books in my library.  Recently I discovered it while rearranging my library shelves and took the time to read through it.  It was so interesting that I knew others, particularly those who grew up around Stinesville, would also find it of interest.  But when I checked to determine where it might be available and in what libraries, I found to book to be practically nonexistent.

stinesville2

So, folks, I’ve decided to donate this little jewel of a book to the library at the Monroe County History Center.  It’s there on the shelves for everyone to enjoy.  But remember it is small and easily lost.  If you can’t find it, check with the library director for assistance.

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Hays Market One of a Kind

Many people who have lived for a while in Bloomington remember Hays Market at 6th and Morton streets.  It wasn’t always a market, however, and the stone carving over the door provides a clue to its origins.

The first owner of the building was Lawrence Currie and his son, John.  Lawrence Currie, whose name was sometimes spelled Curry, typically worked as a farmer.  He followed this career path from his teen years in the 1870s when the family lived in Owen County well into adulthood when the household moved from Greene County to Bloomington.  In 1900, the Currie family lived at the intersection of Morton and 6th streets in Bloomington.  Lawrence made monuments and his son, John, age 23, was a stone cutter.  They joined forces and opened a storefront, Currie & Son, in 1903 at the northwest corner of Morton & 6th.  Someone, probably John, carved the company name in stone above the door.

hays

Sometime between 1910 and 1920, the business collapsed.  Lawrence continued to live at Morton and 6th streets, but went back to farming.  John moved to Indianapolis and worked as a stock clerk in an auto factory.  Afterward the store changed hands a number of times.  For a while it was home to the Charles Cavaness Garage, one of the first garages in Bloomington.  Unfortunately, due to the limited number of cars in the area at the time, the demand for garage work was small and, ultimately, Charles was forced to sell out.

In the meantime, James D. Hays, a resident of Clear Creek Township in Monroe County, owned and operated a market near Smithville.  His grandson, Jerry Hays, recalled that his grandfather was a savvy businessman who didn’t wait for business to come to him.  “He made sandwiches in the morning and took them to the quarries where workers bought them for their lunch.”

Later, sometime between 1945 and 1948, James moved his market from the Smithville area into the empty Currie & Son building.  It quickly became known for its dairy products, fresh produce and mostly meat.  “On Friday nights,” according to Jerry, “when people received their paycheck they used to wait in long lines to buy meat.”

In the evenings and on the weekends Jerry, who was then quite young, and his father, also named James, would drive around the country side to visit farms and dairies to purchase products for the store.  “When we got back to the store we’d use this handheld device to check the eggs to see if there were embryos inside,” recalled Jerry.  “If so, they were discarded.”

Sundays was the only day the store was closed.  On that day James would visit his store to check on the equipment and determine that it was functioning properly.  Often he was accompanied by Jerry who was told to help himself to whatever he wanted.  “Quite literally” Jerry noted, “I was that kid in a candy store.  But I liked meat, especially liked pickled bologna.”

Digging back into his memory, Jerry recalled that his grandfather’s office was located in the southeast corner on the second floor of the building above the door as pictured below.  “At that time the only lighting upstairs were bare bulbs hung from a cord.  The hallways were dimly lit with wide, worn floorboards.  It was scary to a kid.  When I had to go up there, I would run.  On my seventh birthday, my father told me that my present was in grandfather’s office.  I ran down there and discovered a bright, new bicycle.”

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In 1973, at the age of 70, James passed away.  His son, Paul Hays, then assumed management of the store.  He was assisted by his sister, Mary (Hays) Douthitt.  The other two siblings, including Jerry’s father, James, had no interest in the business.  After Paul died in 1996, the business closed.

For a while the building sat empty.  Then it was purchased by a number of different owners and occupied by a number of different businesses.  Finally it was purchased by David Hays, the son of Jerry Hays and the great grandson of James D. Hays.  His motivation was based partly on sentimental reasons and also because it seemed like a good investment.  Space inside has since been remodeled to accommodate offices of various sizes and leased to a variety of businesses.  Today the future seems quite bright for a building established more than a century ago at 6th and Morton.

To read more stories like this one, follow the Monroe County History Center library blog at http://www.mchclibrary.wordpress.com.  Blog subscribers will be notified of a new blog posting once weekly.  Each blog post will pertain to the Monroe County history of a person, place or event.

Post by Randi Richardson